Photo Credit: Tommy The Bartender, Small Town Spirit
Black Bartender Hosts Show Highlighting The Spirits Industry In Smaller Towns
Small Town Spirit, a travel show dedicated to highlighting interesting but overlooked destinations, was born in the beginning of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It was then that Dallas-based host Thomas Holbert AKA Tommy the Bartender, along with a small production team, began visiting bars of their industry friends, highlighting all the things that they did well.
The goal was to try to invite the people that were willing to safely come out to dine and drink, encouraging them to return to a state of normalcy and bring back business to an industry that, like so many others, was suffering due to the pandemic.
“In Texas, we only shut down for a few months,” said Tommy. “After that, employees had to come back to work. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Highlighting the stories of our friends in the industry set off a light bulb. In my mind, these stories were supposed to be told to a larger audience, and it became our aim to get them in front of as many people as possible.”
Having worked as a bartender in Dallas for more than 15 years, Tommy loves not only the creative process of drink making and flavor profiles, but also the stories and people behind them. And he says there are so many stories in the industry begging to be told.
“Crazy nights, creative elixir mixing, culinary masterpieces, having to be a Jack or Jane of all trades…hospitality folks are some of the most interesting people on the planet, in my opinion. In my mind, bartenders and people in the hospitality business are one tiny notch below rock stars in terms of lifestyle.”
Small Town Spirit focuses on bars, breweries, distilleries, and, most importantly, the hardworking people that keep these businesses operating. The program showcases spirits businesses in lesser-known towns, for example, Fredericksburg, Texas and Guanajuato, Mexico, bringing much-deserved attention to these often overlooked locales.
“I feel like I’ve seen more than my fair share of really popular tourist spots throughout the world. My number one influences growing up were Jack Maxwell, host of Booze Traveler, Samantha Brown, host of Passport to Europe, and of course Anthony Bourdain. I noticed these professional storytellers went to ‘lesser-known’ locales to highlight all the great things they do so well. I’ve been more than intrigued since then.”
Despite his years of experience in the industry, Tommy finds he is still able to learn a great deal as the host of Small Town Spirit. Whether it’s meeting new people or discovering new businesses, it’s always a fun learning experience.
“I learned the MOST when our little team went to Isla Mujeres. We were fortunate enough to be accepted with open arms, and this was by far the destination where I learned how to sit back and let the story be told through the eyes of the individual, while only interjecting my personal take when necessary.”
Tommy looks forward to sharing many more stories of the people and businesses of the spirits industry with viewers, introducing them to new and interesting brands, personalities, and locations. Small Town Spirit is currently streaming on Spirits Network and is in talks with a Texas network. You can follow Tommy on Instagram at @tommythebartender.